Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: The Vanishing Game - Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers
Genre: YA, mystery, thriller
Published on February 14, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 353
Read From: 2.1.14 - 2.2.14

The bond between twins is unmistakable. For Jocelyn and Jack, that bond was all they had. But now Jack is dead. Then Jocelyn receives a letter from Jason December - the code name Jack used when they were children. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush. But Noah isn't the one contacting Jocelyn. Together they decide to return to Seale House, the frightening foster home where all there of them lived together. 

Seale House has more secrets than they could have ever imagined. And it suddenly seems possible that Jack faked his death, that the letter and the riddles that follow are cryptic clues leading to his read whereabouts. But someone else is looking for him - someone dangerous. Jocelyn and Noah must race to find Jason December. That is, if he's alive. . . .


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? A creepy house - the most perfect cover for a creepy book! I love how there's a mirror image of it, too, at the bottom. A sort of flip side of things.

Characters: I liked Jocelyn and I liked Noah, but they honestly didn't leave a lasting impression on me. That doesn't mean that they were flat characters; they weren't. It's just that out of everything that happened in The Vanishing Game, Jocelyn and Noah's personalities are the least likely things to stand out in a Reader's mind afterward. For a protagonist who spends the majority of the book making decisions based almost solely on gut feelings and emotions, she's surprisingly sensible, though some of her choices aren't the brightest. Given everything she goes through, I can't exactly hold her inability to think completely clearly against her. I didn't think I would like Noah at first; he was too touchy. But his strong loyalty and wanting to protect Jocelyn soon saw him into my good graces. He wasn't Mr. Perfect - he has a temper - but he's not a bad boy, either.

The Romance: I really liked the romance between Jocelyn and Noah - two teens who have had a crush on one another since they were kids. And it hasn't lessened since they've gotten older and gone separate ways until the night Jocelyn shows up on Noah's doorstep. I would call the romance fast if it weren't for the fact that it was established long before the book takes place (i.e. in their childhood). It was really sweet and didn't take up too much time, but also wasn't hidden in the dark. It was important to the plot without being in your face.

Plot: Jocelyn and her brother Jack have been in the foster care system since they ran away from their neglectful mom and her abusive boyfriends. They ended up a Seale House - a big mansion run by a woman who is cruel and only takes in kids for the money paid to foster parents. If the children disobey even a little bit or if Hazel is in a vicious mood, they're locked in the basement with no meals until Hazel decides to let them out. Everyone lives in mortal terror of that basement, especially Jocelyn. Several years later, Jocelyn and Jack are eventually adopted into a loving foster family, but their new life is cut short when Jack dies in a car accident. Jocelyn is an emotional wreck from losing her only true family. But one say she receives a letter from Jason December - a code name her brother used at Seale House. Only two other people know about the code name: Jocelyn and her childhood friend and crush Noah. Noah didn't send it, and Jocelyn certainly didn't send it to herself, and that leaves only one other person: Jack. This simple letter sends Jocelyn and Noah on a treasure hunt, following strange clues and puzzles that slowly reveal why Jack faked his death - and where he might be hiding. But it also forces Jocelyn to revisit memories from her time at Seale House - memories she would rather forget. And as she digs deeper, she begins to suspect that her childhood fears about Seale House - that the mansion itself was some malevolent being, and that the monster in the basement was no figment of her imagination - may in fact be very real indeed. This was creepy. As the Reader follows Jocelyn around, the story of her past is told in a series of flashbacks (more on that later), slowly pieced together as the book progresses. We get to meet some of the other kids from Seale House - both when they're older and when they were kids. And let me tell you, some of those kids - Corner Boy especially (nick name) - are just downright creepy. The whole atmosphere of Seale House is done so well, to the point of where it's spooky even in the daytime. The plot itself isn't hard to follow, but you have to go on some faith. The twist doesn't necessarily totally hide itself from the Reader, but it's a twist that you dismiss because it isn't weird or even spooky enough. Is it disappointing, though? Well, we'll address that later on. There were definitely moments in this book where I got chills.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. There's a lot of flashbacks in the middle of the narration, and yes, sometimes it interrupts the flow. But the flashbacks were my favorite parts, so I couldn't hate it too much. The similes are perhaps not always the world's greatest, but because of the first person narration, I found them relatively each to dismiss. The spooky factor was done very well.

Content: None beyond a mention of drug use by some characters and spooky elements.

Conclusion: There are a lot of What the heck? moments in this book. And the ending does leave you with questions - lots of them. In short, there are holes. I suppose it was a bit inevitable. And I might have found the twist disappointing if I hadn't been prepared for it. Actually, when I was done with The Vanishing Game, I had to just sit there and think for a minute. I wasn't sure what I had just read. It was creepy and engaging and had likable characters. But the twist was what I logically expected and not what I anticipated. Was I disappointed, though? Not really, surprisingly enough. I think most Readers would and will be. But I wasn't, even though I probably should have been. The majority of The Vanishing Game was so good that it far outweighed the somewhat mundane ending. Note: I say mundane because compared to the rest of the book, it was.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, great for fans of supernatural thrillers and mysteries.


  1. Who would you think the Antagonist of the story is?

    1. I can't really say without giving some important plot points and twists away.


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